For many, the opportunity for a young family to temporarily relocate internationally, dip its toes into a new culture and create lifelong memories, is nothing more than a fantasy. For Armidale Invest Blue Business Analytics Executive Manager David Gill and wife Sally, it’s a concept they longed for, and thanks to the progressive and flexible culture within the company, they are currently living their dream adventure in Ireland.
Avid backpackers in their youth, David and Sally both enjoy a thirst for adventure, one not diminished by the arrival of daughters Olive, 4, and Mabel, 2. If anything, David admits, having a young family further cemented the Gills’ resolve to explore the world.
“Seeing how different cultures live is such an important tool for building empathy and learning and we really wanted to give our girls that opportunity.”
The couple always envisaged that the time to strike on a project of this calibre was while Olive and Mabel were young, prior to commencing their formal education.
Their aim; To genuinely live within the community and immerse their family into the Irish culture.
Weekend trips exploring Ireland and Northern Ireland has given the family a far more indulgent taste for the culture than any holiday could, and with the girls’ attending local playgroups they’ve already developed an international flair.
“Mabel asked me for five quid recently, and it was so funny to see the girls refer to Euros and pounds and be immersed in a different culture – it opens up a whole new world, particularly compared to life in regional Australia.”
For the six months, the family will be living in Ireland David has retained his position with Invest Blue, working remotely. He first floated the idea a few years ago before finally making a proposal to the Board early this year, admitting he wasn’t confident his proposal to work remotely, and internationally, would be considered.
“Surprisingly no one thought I was crazy, and no one said no. Invest Blue took a very mature approach to how we could make this work, and whether a move like this could potentially become part of the firm’s culture.”
David laughs that he was more than willing to be the guinea pig, and started planning with his Invest Blue financial planner Luke Warren.
“Luke challenged us on how the move would affect us personally – our values, goals and sacrifices – so we had to look realistically at the opportunity cost of such an endeavour.”
Savings would cease, the family would downgrade from their comfortable home to a small Irish cottage, and they would be a long way from family and friends. The cold and wet climate of Ireland was also to be considered.
Finances were also a factor, with the move temporarily putting a hold on any saving potential, and Sally forgoing her income as a nurse while abroad. However, in the end, the family decided the lifestyle dividends outweighed the costs.
“When we got down to the nitty-gritty of it all, these issues were in no way deal breakers, if anything we looked forward to embracing change.”
The ability to rent their home in Armidale also helped negate any rent expenditure during their time in Ireland. While families moving abroad is not an unusual concept, it’s not always usual for business to support such an undertaking, as such, the Gill’s are extremely grateful to Invest Blue for facilitating this opportunity.
“The reason we have been able to embark on this adventure is all thanks to Invest Blue’s open mind and ability to think outside the box when it comes to meeting the needs of its people.”
After years of planning, pitching and refining their proposal, David and Sally were ecstatic to receive their much-anticipated green light early this year. The family relocated in early July, and while the Irish weather did take some getting used to, David and Sally are thrilled that the family has settled into Irish life so beautifully.
“I wish I could just bottle this feeling and experience, this opportunity to separate myself from work and enjoy a much-needed break from routine has been hugely inspirational.”
The practicalities of working internationally for an Australian based company took some adjustment and required much planning. Up at 4.30 am to coincide with his Australian counterparts has revealed how productive David can be getting his work done early in the day.
“I feel really efficient starting early, I can knock over my work by noon, and then I have the whole afternoon to spend with my family. And because of the time difference, no one is ringing or emailing me during my afternoons, it’s genuine-time I can devote entirely to Sally and the girls, totally free from distractions.”
It’s a working format he believes could hold the key to combatting tiredness and burnout across a large range of businesses in general.
“Having my afternoons free helps me thrive, feeling deeply satisfied each day energizes me, and each morning when it’s time to work, I’m ready to go.”
A strong team back in Australia has been the key to facilitating this work structure, with open communication and honest feedback driving success.
“I’ve had to be really upfront with myself, and my team, as to what works and what doesn’t. Originally I had hoped to work part time during this time and we discovered this just wasn’t realistic, but as my routine has evolved it’s emerged I can still enjoy time with my family whilst working full-time.”
He had also initially hoped to do a full twelve months in Ireland, however, a six-month timeframe has emerged as a more practical compromise. And while the move has provided professional reinvigoration, it’s also proven a catalyst for quality family time.
“We’ve really noticed the girls have become so much closer during our time in Ireland. They’re becoming great little mates and the time I get to spend with them is genuine, quality time. We’re sharing experiences, living in the moment and creating life long memories in the meantime.”
Although technology has facilitated this move, David believes it can also be a barrier to meaningful relaxation and interaction.
“Even during family holidays, I found it very hard to really disconnect – work, emails, phone calls are always on the conscience. To be able to remove ourselves from an essentially high-stress routine for this amount of time has given us all a breathing space and a really good break, we’re happier, closer and more efficient at work and home.”
The family will return to Armidale early next year, buoyed by its Irish adventure.
In fact, such has been the success of the experience, the Gill’s won’t rule out another temporary move in the future.
“We love our life in Armidale, I love working for Invest Blue and hope to enjoy a long career with the firm, we know where our girls will go to school – we are following a really clear and enjoyable path, so to have this opportunity to explore outside our comfort zone and have some fun has been extremely beneficial in so many fronts. Professionally, I feel like I’ll return to Australia re-energized, ready to tackle the long work hours and high demands of my role and personally, this time has been invaluable to our family.”
An ambitious plan made simple thanks to Invest Blue, and life sure is grand for the Gills!
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